Creating Rainbows in the Rain and Stars in the Dark
After three years, my first book is about to be published–Rainbows in the Rain and Stars in the Dark: A Guide for Positive Living! This colorful book for all ages is a sunny guide for positive living featuring my vibrant multimedia art and a custom font.
In this blog post I want to share my creative and technical processes so you can better understand the work behind the book and perhaps even guide you if you decide to embark on a similar journey.
In 2018, it began with an idea whispering in my ear after a conversation with a colleague about writing a book for my daughters. What could this book be, I wondered. A memoir? A manual? A narrative? Would it be for my daughters at this specific moment in time or something for older versions of them to understand?
At the end of summer 2018, I bought a large sketchbook and some art supplies and started brainstorming the ideas and images that appeared to me in scribbles and sketches. I woke up early, often in the deep darkness of the morning, and began my work in the soft silence of morning solitude.
I let these ideas and images marinate and ferment in the kitchen of my mind before deciding on my direction. It would be a book of life lessons, simple enough for an elementary school child to understand yet complex enough for a middle schooler to appreciate. This book could grow with and would follow them throughout their lives, with a framework of 20 essential lessons.
I’m known as a positive and energetic person but I seek out the sun only because I know from experience how deep episodes of despair can be. Life is beautiful but it is also incredibly hard, and I wanted my book to reflect that reality. With that sentiment in mind, I began writing the 20 lessons–short phrases with just a few sentences of elaboration for each.
As I started this project, my friends and family encouraged me to make it available to all, rather than just printing copies for my daughters. This support and faith energized and propelled me forward. At this moment I also made the decision to donate a portion of the proceeds to a non-profit and quickly selected OMID Foundation due to their outstanding work bringing healing and hope to girls and young women in need.
Creating the Art
Next, I visualized the book. What would it look like? How would I want my daughters and my readers to feel when reading it? Since I wanted it to be uplifting and encouraging, I knew the art would need to be bright and colorful. I dedicated a page in my sketchbook to each of the 20 lessons and began doodling to explore–representational? cartoon? abstract?
Since I wanted this book to resonate with and be relevant to young children, adolescents, and adults I decided the emotional and intellectual openness of abstract art was a good fit. I wanted the range and expressiveness that paint allows and decided to create a watercolor and an acrylic version for each lesson. After creating 40 painting pairs, the boldness of acrylic was the winner and I started the process of making a final painting for each lesson. After each painting was complete, I added additional lines and texture with oil and chalk pastels.
Crafting the message
Initially I imagined the book as being very personal and didn’t want to just type out these lessons from my heart–it seemed too impersonal and blah for this project’s spirit. Initially I imagined creating the art and then lettering directly on it but foresaw too many possible issues with keeping the lettering uniform and not detracting from the art too much. I briefly considered compromising and just doing a font overlay on the art but when discussing the project with a friend, she said “It has to be in your handwriting!” and I agreed. Now, I am fairly tech-savvy but don’t have any formal training in graphic design and am a PhotoShop moron so it was quite a quandary. But somehow in my research and bumbling, I stumbled across a website that allows you to create your own font and so I created a stylized version of my handwriting.
With the written content ready to roll, my custom font downloaded to my laptop, and a stack of bright art, I had to decide on the layout. I considered a full page of the art on the left with the lesson emblazoned across it and then a border of the same art on the right surrounding the explanation of the lesson. Eventually I decided against it because I felt it detracted too much from the art but also, honestly, I couldn’t figure out how to do it. There are many incredibly skilled and talented graphic design professionals out there and I certainly could have consulted one but I believed strongly that I should do as much of the work for this book as possible. I didn’t share much of the early stages of my work with my husband but once I was closer to completion, his eye for detail gave me helpful suggestions.
I forged ahead, trying various programs and apps for the layout with varying levels of frustration and success, and after a ton of time and energy, ironically decided that Word worked just fine for what I wanted to do. I was very fortunate that a talented photographer friend helped me to scan and tweak the colors for my artwork files. Finally, I decided that the left pages would be the original art and the right pages would be a faded version of the same art, with the lesson at the top and the explanation beneath, typed in my custom font. Two of my wonderful friends kindly agreed to review my rough files and give me feedback on the design and the spirit. Reviewing the book format options from IngramSpark, I selected the hardcover case laminate option for its durability and simplicity.
At this point, COVID had been on the scene for almost a year and I was tired down to my bones for so many reasons. I researched various self-publishing platforms and decided IngramSpark was best for a full color book like mine. I read and watched all their resources on self-publishing and felt I could figure out how to jump through that final hoop of doing the file layout for printing.
As I watched the days run out on the 2020 calendar, I thought I might be able to have the book files ready and maybe even have the book printed and ready for my daughters’ Christmas gifts but I hit a wall. I read the required IngramSpark file specs over and over–“bleed” and “binding” until my eyes crossed and my brain felt like a can of Spam. I had to honor my body and spirit and rest a little before continuing and in those moments of rest, I decided I would find a professional to help me get my files ready. I located a professional on Fiverr who has extensive experience with IngramSpark book layouts, including illustrated books, and worked with her to create the required files.
The Finish Line
The new year gave me a needed boost of energy and I set up my book information in IngramSpark, created a UPC code so it could be sold in stores and carried in libraries, and submitted my interior and cover files. After a review, the cover needed some tweaking to meet the specs and then it was submitted again. This time, I was thrilled that both files were accepted and ordered a review copy for me to check how the book printed.
When it arrived on my doorstep after less than a week wait time, my heart started thudding with excitement. I couldn’t believe after 3 years of work that it had finally arrived. I snatched the package off the doorstep, plopped down on the couch with my husband, and tore the package open. Happiness and elation sizzled through me–surely how a glass filled with champagne must feel or a dandelion at the moment its seeds release to float on the wind! Holding the physical book in my hands was both incredible and unbelievable all at once.
After reviewing my copy, I did see that the title on the back cover was not properly centered so I contacted my file designer at Fiverr for corrections. Once they are submitted successfully, the book will be on sale via my online shop and at Locals Farm Market in Poolesville, Maryland. 10% of all proceeds will be donated to the amazing OMID Foundation.
My hope is that everyone who reads this book will feel uplifted and inspired by the positive words and joyful art within. And maybe even inspired to start a crazy creative project of your own–it all begins with a just an idea and your first step toward it. Even if it takes years, even if you need to step away for a moment when life gets too heavy, just begin.
Inspiration for a creative morning routine
For about 4 years, I have been getting up around 5:00am every morning, even on weekends, to journal and write. One of these days I’ll devote a blog post to this habit because it has truly been an absolute life-changer for me. In the meantime, you may like to delve into one of these resources that helped inspire and shape my morning creative routine.
- The Miracle Morning: The Not-so-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform your Life (Before 8am)
- The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
- Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative no Matter how Busy You Are
(AFFILIATE MARKETING NOTICE: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you purchase a book from any of the Amazon links above, I will earn a small commission fee.)
ABOUT TASTE TRAVEL TEACH & CHRISTINE RAI
L: Products in my shop; R: sneak peek inside my upcoming book
Click here to learn more about me and my credentials.
Check out my shop for unique products with my creative flair (see image above, L)
Contact me here about teaching a class, leading a tour, or speaking to your group.
My current project: I’m finishing up my first book, Rainbows in the Rain and Stars in the Dark, a sunny guide for positive living for all ages featuring my vibrant multimedia art (see image above, R).
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Copyright Christine Rai, 2021